MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s been about three weeks since the Minnesota winter high school sports season came to an end in a flurry of state tournaments.
In the weeks since, you have a mixture of kids who need a break from the grind and others who are itching the get the next season underway. And for seniors, it’s the last athletic season they’ll have in high school. It goes the same way for coaches, especially those who don’t run a winter sport.
After a brutal winter, Minnesota is once again victim to Mother Nature as it is every spring with high school sports. It brings up the debate every year of moving some spring sports to the fall to guarantee they’ll happen. But the spring is really the time of year when patience is most important.
We have to wait for snow to melt and the playing surfaces to dry to ensure kids can play without getting hurt, whether it’s baseball, softball, track and field, tennis or lacrosse. Perhaps the sport most affected by spring weather is golf. Not only do golfers have to find innovative ways to practice, inside or outside, while the snow melts, they can’t even play until Twin Cities courses open.
With temperatures in the 70s on Wednesday, many teams got outside and held their first events of the season. Spring is back, and you couldn’t find a happier group to welcome a new season in.
It’s still very early to guess what teams will be at or near the top in which sports, but we got a look at the prep baseball season this week with the first polls being released. For those who follow the game, there were not huge surprises. After winning the Class AAA state title last year, Mounds View is the No. 1 ranked team entering the season.
The top five teams include Lakeville North, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Mounds View. None of them is any stranger to success. Kasson-Mantorville is ranked No. 1 in Class AA after winning last year’s state title, and BOLD is the top team in Class A with a title to defend in 2014.
Other AA teams in the rankings to keep an eye on this spring include No. 3 Delano, No. 4 Hermantown, No. 5 Luverne and No. 9 Holy Family Catholic. It’s anyone’s guess in Class A, but a lot of the top familiar names are back in No. 2 Sleepy Eye-St. Mary’s, No. 3 St. Agnes, No. 5 Wabasha-Kellogg and No. 8 New Ulm Cathedral.
Two of the top players in the metro to keep your eye on are Sam Hentges, a pitcher/first baseman for Mounds View. He was one of the top players on last year’s state championship team. Luke Pettersen of Minnetonka, a middle infielder, could finish as one of the top all-around players in the metro by the end of the season.
Pitching is a huge key in high school baseball every year, but it’s even more important this year with weather delaying the start of the season and rainouts likely at some point in the spring. Practice will be a rarity for teams, so having at least three quality starting pitchers will go a long towards finishing the season at the state tournament.
Regardless of which teams are hosting championship trophies in June, there’s no more sure sign of spring than baseball.